Receive the children in reverence; educate them in love; let them go forth in freedom.
- Rudolf Steiner
It is a scientific fact that it takes seven years to transform every inherited cell in the body. At the first instance of this natural cycle of life, the seven-year-old child is wholly them self for the first time in their life. On the one hand, a new and vivid life of imagination has arrived, and on the other, a readiness for more formal learning. As the child develops further, the ability for more sequential and logical thought begins to surface. Yet this is a delicate time in a child’s life. For while this new-found ability demands attention, the capacity to be fully comfortable in the world of imagination remains the child's most vital asset. Since elementary-age students possess these strong imaginative powers, it makes sense for it to become the field of learning in the classroom. Everything, from the introduction of the alphabet to the Pythagorean theorem, is taught through the child's imagination with engagement and relevancy to the real world.
Most educational models focus on preparing students to meet specific benchmarks by asking them to accumulate as much information as possible at the earliest age possible. Instead, to maximize the learning process through more natural means, our developmentally appropriate curriculum combines rigorous academic work with rich artistic and hands-on experiences. This integrated approach to education engages the child's whole being. It highlights the importance of investing in human development, and not simply brain development.
Inspired by the Waldorf model, our classes have a core teacher who accompanies the children through multiple grades, potentially all eight grades. The core teacher is the primary teacher for math, reading and writing, social studies and science. Students have the opportunity to build deep and meaningful relationships with their core teacher. The respect, trust and authentic love that develops between teacher and student throughout multiple years offers the security and support each child needs as a foundation to develop to their fullest potential. It also offers the teacher a unique opportunity to know each of their students on a deep level both academically and emotionally. This relationship enhances their ability to discover their students' unique talents and challenges, providing them with equally unique answers on how to support the child as a unique individual. Each child's personal and academic success is at the heart of a Waldorf classroom.
Each day the teacher meets the student with a warm individual greeting “eye to eye” and a firm handshake; this focused moment of individual attention reinforces their personal relationship and self-awareness. The teacher begins class by everybody joining together in some form of physical movement to "wake up" the psyche along with active music, singing and verse. Our students also enjoy a nature walk before moving into the main lesson. The lesson immerses students in a particular academic subject such as reading and writing, math, science or social studies. Every course of study, or block lasts 3-4 weeks and covers a focused subject matter so that the students may explore it in depth. Each block is approached from multiple learning modalities including story telling, observation and participation, physical exercises, music, poetry, painting, drawing, movement and dramatic activities. Engaging students in an immersive and multi-dimensional exploration of block subjects is a proven effective learning method. This approach also promotes freshness, enthusiasm, memorable experiences and time for the student to digest what has been learned, so that it will fully “live” within each child.
Based on the formal presentations of their teacher students create their own textbooks referred to as a Main Lesson Book. They are filled with formal dictation, careful note-taking and personal observations. They continue to come alive with compositions, diagrams and drawings that illustrate, archive and interpret their studies. The students' authorship of their Main Lesson Book establishes an independent, self-reliant and individually interpretive method of student learning. It fosters the student's academic and life skills in organizing, absorbing and reflecting on content and building knowledge. It also facilitates a more active method of inquiry. Developing this ownership and responsibility for their own learning results in an education that penetrates deeply into the imagination and memory of the child.